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Europe’s Muslims

Posted By Sunny On 18th September, 2007 @ 10:40 am In Current affairs, Religion | 141 Comments

Sometimes the Financial Times is the only newspaper in Britain [1] with spot-on commentary.

Now the European Union’s 16m or so Muslims are often considered unassimilable. Fifty years after they began arriving in Europe, their rates of joblessness and incarceration remain high. A very small number are fundamentalist terrorists, as in the recently foiled plot in Germany. Muslims also traditionally have more children than native Europeans. Hence the American neo-conservative Norman Podhoretz, in his new book**, predicts that western Europe will be “conquered from within by Islamofascism”.

Yet the Financial Times’ recent series of articles [2] on Muslims in Europe showed nothing of the kind. We found that most concerns about Europe’s Muslims were overblown – despite the terrorists – and in time may fade like those ancient fears of Italians.

Here are three suggestions to help European Muslims integrate. First, abolish housing segregation. It is hard to become British or French if you are planted in a ghetto where you never meet natives. Second, make immigrants learn the native language. It is the only essential business tool. Third, the authorities should not worry about changing people’s thoughts. People can support any cricket team, or believe whatever they like about gays, as long as they obey the law. The worst way to make people feel integrated is to keep demanding that they integrate.


141 Comments To "Europe’s Muslims"

#1 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 10:54 am

Of course the contentious bit is:

Third, the authorities should not worry about changing people’s thoughts.

I’m all for not banning the hijab for instance, but I would like the thought process behind it changed as it is retrograde and a symbol of female oppression and submission to men.

Basically it is saying “governments shouldn’t be afraid to use properganda to manipulate the public to shape them as they wish”.

Does that sit so easy when disagree with what “they” want you to think?

TFI

#2 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:02 am

interesting. i’d agree definitely on the last point - talking about integration only makes it clearer that someone/ some people - are thought of as ‘foreign’.

side questions - (trying to unpack some things): they say abolish “housing segregation” - are they talking about this a current practice, or are we talking about doing something about patterns established a few decades ago. (and given there will be some self-segregation happening if we’re not just talking about social/council housing - i.e. what about Southall?)

Or is the supposition that mass immigration is happening now like it did in the 60s and these people are being housed (with public funds!)and that too in a racial segregation manner? or perhaps - if its talking about now - are we talking about refugees who have been successful in securing asylum, (who are entitled to state support once they’ve got asylum)

i mean there isn’t a hell of a lot of social housing in the first place ( the FT knows that i’m sure!) and -on council estates, people do come across ‘natives’… {the ‘barriers’ there - i.e between standard council estates and other types of housing} are more likely class ones..

#3 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:12 am

I’m not quite sure I know what the hell you’re talking about TFI, but I did pick this up…

“I’m all for not banning the hijab for instance, but I would like the thought process behind it changed as it is retrograde and a symbol of female oppression and submission to men”

and got immediately put off, and probably will be immediately put off everything you say from now on for spewing such OLD, worn out, false, cliched, orientalist spill-over rhetoric.

It’s ironic that no matter how loud hijabed women scream that they dress how they do out of choice and a desire to repel the male gaze, all people can do is persistently ignore them and insist on calling them oppressed. As if the ‘oriental’ is dumb, and needs the more enlightened westerner to speak on their behalf. I sometimes wonder who’s really doing the oppressing.

But let us not detract from the point of this thread, and great commentary from the FT, I must say.

#4 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:15 am

the best way to get people to ‘integrate’ if that’s what you want (hush of course whilst pretending you aren’t trying, because of rule no. 3 as above) is send them regularly to home country where they can realise how different they are, and the reality of ‘homeland’ -as opposed to the nostalgic sentimentality of their parents’ stories. and ensure if its south asians, they can only go to the indian sub-continent during the hot horrible monsoon months etc.

a bit of clever manipulation would no doubt go a long way( but really of course, we know what everyone really wants to write and talk about integration. and it wouldn’t be much fun if we couldn’t. so perhaps society will take the route its currently going down.)

#5 Comment By Letters From A Tory On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:27 am

Amen to that post, Pickled Politics.

Not sure the housing suggestion is going to work though, because local people should be given priority over housing versus immigrants.

#6 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:38 am

i understand your frustration green muslim. its annoying as an individual to be told that one is conforming and doing something for a reason which other might apply to other people, when obviously, whilst some of those reasons might apply, as an individual, there’s always an individual context.

with the hijab hoo-ha here, it is more complicated than the simple binary orientalist/westerner - because - this issue is set in the Western Muslim context. Muslim women’s experience here is different. for women in muslim countries in places like the middle east and elsewhere, it’s a different context, there are big issues with women fighting for the right to not wear a hijab, and saying they feel oppressed (which they have the right to think) . and similarly, people elsewhere feel they’re oppressed when they’re told they shouldn’t wear something. its obviously because people conflate muslims ‘here’ and muslims ‘there’ ( and not just ‘Westerners’ do this conflating) and imagine all issues around the hijab are likely to be the same. well obviously its not. it would be nice if - like with every other issue under the sun, we are able to understand each other’s individual contexts. Rather than ‘blocking’ everything - asian issues, muslim issues, terms like that can serve to reinforce block thinking, because everyone thinks all asians and all muslims must have the same issues! and its the same problem the other way back, too many muslims think that if people do take issue with religions proscribing a particular form of dress, they must be being a western orientalist or something like that. the fewer assumptions we all make about each other and ‘blocking’ points of view as if they are easily understood and grouped, i think it would be less frustrating all around.

( its another matter de=personalising it, and to criticise a religious edict, which could be x or y, the requirement to pray, or wear a hijab, to believe in God etc. After all, we’re allowed to take issues with ideas/edicts..

#7 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:43 am

there you go, Letter from a Tory thinks public housing is ‘given’ to immigrants, over ‘local people’.

What kind of ‘immigrants’ are you talking about LT that you think ‘gets’ public housing? i’d like to find out! what kind of visas - how long - etc. what’s the exact immigration status?

really i’m convinced no #Native# (i’ll carry on using the lovely FT terminology) knows a thing about ‘immigration’.

#8 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:43 am

Green Muslim, that’s fine I really don’t mind if you do that.

I have issues about the state telling people where to live and what to think. Obviously the state should the people be educated sufficently to successfully operate and provide an economic contribution to society.

Endless bleating about the need to integrate don’t inspire people to do so, better to give people something to aspire to join. American does this much better than us. Unfortunately some people are disgusted not inspired by a liberal tolarant society and its “gay marriage” and “uncovered women” etc.

TFI

#9 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:45 am

I remember this hippy girl shouting at my then Italian girlfriend because she discovered my girlfriend was drawing unemployment benefits. Her very words were:

“You come here and take benefits away from me and my baby!”

Charming. Feel the love.

TFI

#10 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:48 am

- as it is now, anyway, people seem to think ‘immigration’ is ONE thing. (apart from the lawyers and other folk whose jobs are to know these things)

there are groups of people who are subject to ‘immigration rules’ - that’s more accurate to say. different types of visas, work permits etc.

if people mean ‘immigrants’ as people who previously used to be subject to immigration, and have passed the time limits and have obtained British passports, then that should be made clear. And by that time, i think the idea is that they are considered LOCAL people, otherwise they would still be subject to immigration rules ( one of the main rules being NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS!!)

SIGH,

#11 Comment By DrPangloss On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:48 am

Green muslim

“Orientalist”

I think in your excitement to post you got your Oriental and Occidental mixed up.

Btw, I love the “orientalist” rhetoric.

#12 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:49 am

Well it’s a real pity that Hijab has been completely misrepresented from translation anyway. It’s not just about putting a blinking piece of cloth on your head..as for it being a sign of oppression…cue the violins…the poor muslim girls who are being forced to wear it…blah blah…yes there is oppression in Muslim societies…yes there are women that don’t want to be forced to cover up, but don’t assume that all Muslim women are forced or co-erced into practising hijab..maybe it might be worthwhile at not block thinking as Sonia pointed out..Muslim girls/women may wear a scarf for a number of reasons..whilst doing so, some may not be practising hijab at all…go figure that one out.

#13 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:50 am

..i should have said, to be clear: “if people mean ‘immigrants’ as people who previously used to be “subject to immigration rules’, and have passed the time limits and have obtained British passports, and are now no longer subject to immigration rules- then that should be made clear. If they mean something else, they need to be specific.

i suppose this is why in the US they have NUMBERS and exact descriptions of every possible status you can have.

#14 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:51 am

As for integration, isn’t that a two way street…

#15 Comment By Leon On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:54 am

Sometimes the Financial Times is the only newspaper in Britain with spot-on commentary.

Yep, as Chomsky says it’s the only paper that tells the truth!

#16 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:56 am

im not suprised the level of immigration debate is where it is at, given everyone seems to think you can swan in and get social housing.

and granted people get most of their info from the media who talk about ‘immigration’ and ‘housing segregation’ without defining what they hell they mean.

#17 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:58 am

we are able to understand each other’s individual contexts.

I partly agree with this, but understanding series of individual contexts doesn’t explain the behavour of a group. As a wise man once said, if you want to understand the dog, you need to study the pack as well as the animal. Same goes for ants, apes, whales and mamals in general.

After all, we’re allowed to take issues with ideas/edicts..

Absolutely.

TFI

#18 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

From the [3] Islamicist:


Our backup system was a brother who we referred as ‘Brother FT’. His father owned a corner shop, and he bought in copies of the Financial Times which he considered to be a particularly hateful publication as it documented ‘the Financial hegemony of the Kuffar. And it is pink, the colour of pigs and homosexualists’. One day a small argument ensued when it became apparent that the colour of the homosexualists had now evolved to a rainbow colour. It was then settled by one of the physics brothers who pointed out that the spectrum contains red, and when the spectrum is merged it makes the colour white. As red and white make pink, so the FT still, in a fashion, could continue to represent the homosexualists. The brother who liked the chicken and chips was getting quite agitated and we didn’t want a scene.

:-)

#19 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

As for integration, isn’t that a two way street…

Sure, I think that Asian women are amongst the most beautiful in the world and I love to integrate with them whenever given the chance.

Although, I find that their brothers often make it rather difficult …

TFI

#20 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

yeah understanding how individuals interact within a group is absolutely important - i agree TFI, and not often paid much attention too - otherwise social psychology would be as ‘respected’ as economics!

#21 Comment By sonia On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

heh heh Tfi you’re a funny one :-)

#22 Comment By sahil On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

The FT is class, sometimes when you’re think you’re going mad because of the crap that’s said on mainstream media, just read the FT. The FT’s research I think is the Harris poll that they conducted. Here is a copy of their analysis, *Sunny, I’m not sure whether it’s legal to post this, but I will anyway :D* :

“Britons ‘more suspicious’ of Muslims

By Daniel Dombey in London and Simon Kuper in Paris

Published: August 19 2007 22:22 | Last updated: August 19 2007 22:22

Britons are more suspicious of Muslims than Americans and other Europeans are, according to a poll for the Financial Times.

Only 59 per cent of Britons thought it possible to be both a Muslim and a citizen of their country, a smaller proportion than in France, Germany, Spain, Italy or the US – the other countries polled by Harris Interactive.

British citizens were also the most likely to predict a “major terrorist attack” in their country in the next 12 months; to consider Muslims “a threat to national security”, and to believe Muslims had too much political power in their country.

However, on more personal measures of integration – having Muslim friends and accepting the marriage of their child to a Muslim – Britons showed more enthusiasm than some other countries.

The findings suggest that terrorist plots against the UK, including the London bombings of July 7 2005, have hardened British attitudes towards Muslims. Osama Saeed of the Muslim Association of Britain blamed the findings on what he called “a vicious campaign” by the press against the Muslim community,.

Most British respondents – 52 per cent – expected a “major terrorist attack” in their country within a year. Even in Spain where the Basque extremist group Eta has recently abandoned a ceasefire, only 32 per cent predicted a big attack. The numbers fell to 30 per cent in the US and 15 to 18 per cent in France, Italy and Germany.

France emerged as the country most at ease with its Muslim population. The French were most likely to say they had Muslim friends, to accept if their child wanted to marry a Muslim, and to say Muslims in their country had received unjustified criticism and prejudice.

Patrick Weil, political scientist at the University of Paris 1- Sorbonne, said: “In France we are very good at cultural integration. We are very bad in fighting discrimination, especially in high-level jobs. In the UK it is the opposite.”

In the US, which has proportionally fewer Muslim inhabitants than France, Britain or Germany, 21 per cent saw the presence of Muslims as a threat, while 20 per cent said Muslims had too much power.

Harris conducted an online poll between August 1 and 13 of 6,398 adults, broadly split among the six countries surveyed. “

#23 Comment By Leon On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

As for integration, isn’t that a two way street…

In theory yes.

#24 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

In France I think it might be a bit more of assimilation rather than integration

#25 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

the best way to get people to ‘integrate’ …. is send them regularly to home country where they can realise how different they are, and the reality of ‘homeland’ -as opposed to the nostalgic sentimentality of their parents’ stories. and ensure if its south asians, they can only go to the indian sub-continent during the hot horrible monsoon months etc.

Sonia - Are you an exponent of “Tough Love” for children?

As you say - 100% the way to cure any whinging and improve integration. Perhaps it could be a CBBC programme - I catch mine watching Prank TV. Perhaps I’ll send them to India and arrange a prank encounter with the Delhi cops for dropping litter - that would soon put the fear of God into them or at least teach them how to bribe people properly.

- or the challenge of how to get on the bus at Connaught Circus without falling under the wheels. They will never complain about overcrowding again.

I think I have a submission here - any commissioning editors reading this blog?

Justforfun

#26 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

I’ve no issue with a lady who tells me that she is Muslim. I’ve a major issue with the person that says “you aren’t a Muslim unless you wear a hijab”. The lady that don’s a nijab and proclaims even higher moral ground may think that she is standing up for woman’s rights, but in fact she is being detrimental a Muslims woman’s right not to wear a Hijab.

I would like to see this attitude change and Muslim women seek empowerment by throwing off the hijab, much like the last generation in west burnt thier bras.

TFI

#27 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

Does anyone else think that it doesn’t really help taking such a wide context to figure this out? Personally I’m not sure that contextualising it all in the context of ‘Europe’ helps that much as the dynamics of every society are different, the levels of integration, the demographics of ethnic minority patterns and so on.

#28 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

It’s ironic that no matter how loud hijabed women scream that they dress how they do out of choice and a desire to repel the male gaze

It actually draws attention to you as much as it repels ‘the male gaze’, especially when you wear attractive and bright coloured, or minimalist black fashion label ones.

Plus, what is wrong with ‘the male gaze’?

#29 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:09 pm

Simon Kuper is a good journalist and writer — one of the best football writers there is.

#30 Comment By Random Guy On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

I will leave someone else to answer Jagdeep’s obvious question. Surprised to read this commentary. Agree with most of it. Especially the bit where they say that the number one way to get people NOT to integrate is to keep telling them that they have to.

#31 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

TFI I think there are a couple of issues with what you have said; 1/ Niqab vs Hijab - once again you focus on the negative. I don’t really agree (like many who have a basic knowledge of Islam) with Niqab as a religous requirement. Hijab in normative Islam is about more than the scarf, so maybe you should focus on that instead of the cloth. If people are claiming the higher moral ground, then that is their fundamental failing in understanding the expression of hijab. I have come across many Muslim women and girls who wear a scarf for a number of reasons, so for you to solely focus on the kind of women who are doing it to have some sort of moral high ground is unfortunate and not very objective.
2/ Hijab as a form of oppression is something that is discussed time and again. If a woman/girl is being co-erced or forced into wearing a scarf for religious reasons, then yes, that is oppression. If you feel that the justification for wearing a scarf itself is oppressive, then only a woman who wears it out of free choice can answer that. For you to call hijab oppressive shows you have little understanding of the concept of hijab, and I once again *sigh* ask you to read what the definition of hijab is as opposed to it being a scarf. If it was all about the scarf preserving modesty then Audrey Hepburn in the 50s and 60s would have been an ideal advertisement..however, it is not about simply wearing a piece of cloth on the head, it is part of a more in depth look at behaviour. Hijab is also not just practised by Muslim women, but by Muslim men (albeit expressed differently).

#32 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

As for burning bras, I have never come across a religious book that advocated the wearing of bras. Throwing off the bras was more a societal rebellion; little to do with religious doctrine. Burning or throwing off scarves would have both.

#33 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

I have never come across a religious book that advocated the wearing of bras

It would be an interesting religion that did.

#34 Comment By Sunny On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

That Islamicist website is way too funny.

Sahil, yeah I read that article too. But the fact that nearly 60% of Britons now think there doesn’t have to be a conflict between nationality and religion I think is an improvement on the numbers AND a good thing. Dunno why the FT were putting a negative spin on it.

#35 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

Jagdeep - it would indeed.

#36 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

I mean, it would be weird for the religion to have a fixation on boobs and the issue of the bra, but also quite an endearing religion that did worry about such things.

#37 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

I used to think the French were crazy and well remember the article in the Guardian which included a scenario in which a pair of Muslim sisters let off a nuke in the centre of Paris as a result of the veil ban. How their policy of integration, sorry assmililation, would only end in tears, poor fools.

This was of course long before 7/7.

#38 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

my goodness, this morning when I posted a comment, I was the second person to do so, and now I’ve wandered on here during my ramadan lunch break, there are 33 replies already…

I can’t keep up with this.

from what I did see after skimming the comments, I have this to reply….

drpangloss- I have no Idea what you’re talking about (obfuscation seems to be catching on like a cold today)

jagdeep, what’s wrong with the male gaze??? what’s wrong with the male gaze!!?? That’s all I have to say to that question (and you call yourself a feminist!).

And once again religious symbols are something altogether different when it comes to muslims and women- oh you can have your sikh turbans and jewish kippas, but God forbid a woman should actually wear something you don’t like. Methinks all the hijab burners have some serious orientalist (there’s that word again) freudian issues going on that need to be resolved and psychoanalysed.

#39 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

jagdeep, what’s wrong with the male gaze??? what’s wrong with the male gaze!!?? That’s all I have to say to that question (and you call yourself a feminist!)

I don’t call myself a feminist, and I still don’t know what’s wrong with ‘the male gaze’. Sounds very paranoid to me.

And once again religious symbols are something altogether different when it comes to muslims and women- oh you can have your sikh turbans and jewish kippas, but God forbid a woman should actually wear something you don’t like. Methinks all the hijab burners have some serious orientalist (there’s that word again) freudian issues going on that need to be resolved and psychoanalysed

What’s an Orientalist Freudian issue? Does it have something to do with the male gaze?

Look, most people don’t care that women wear the hijab (although they do find the burqa and niqab to be demented and wrong). It’s just a head covering after all. No different from a turban or yarmulka or baseball cap, for that matter. It’s the paranoia and righteousness that some who wear it proclaim that gets an answer.

#40 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

what’s wrong with the male gaze??? what’s wrong with the male gaze!!??

1. A little paranoid. Also insulting towards men, because it presumes a lack of self-control and consideration on their part.
2. Also a little egotistical and presumptious. Men only ogle women they think are hot, not the entire female gender per se. Unless all women are visibly hidden from them, in which case they will indeed overreact when exposed to women who are “less covered”, because by this time the female face and/or body will be fetishized in the mens’ minds to exaggerated and unhealthy levels.
3. Women ogle men too, so by that logic men should also be covered from head to toe in order to deflect the “lascivious female gaze”.

Especially the bit where they say that the number one way to get people NOT to integrate is to keep telling them that they have to.

Agreed completely. One way to genuinely make people feel “different” (and thereby alienate them) is by repeatedly drawing attention to ways in which they may indeed differ to the majority. Keep indicating that you think the other party is “different”, and sooner or later they will begin to feel, think and act in that way.

You can either focus on things you have in common — as individuals and as human beings in general — or you can keep focusing on (actual and perceived) differences, which will be particularly counterproductive & destructive if the other party has actually been doing their best to “fit in” with everyone else, within their own limits anyway.

#41 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

3. Women ogle men too, so by that logic men should also be covered from head to toe in order to deflect the “lascivious female gaze”

What about gay men? They ogle men too. I often get ogled by gay blokes because I’m so handsome. Surely there is a case for men to cover themselves in a way that prevents the lust of gay dudes oppressing them.

#42 Comment By DrPangloss On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

“but God forbid a woman should actually wear something you don’t like.” – green muslim

With that line and your first ever post digressing to a sikh wanting to pray privately in a common prayer room, you come across as an Angry Green Muslim. Relax

Orientals are people from the east. Occidentals are people from the west. Easy to mix up (not).

“Look, most people don’t care that women wear the hijab…….It’s just a head covering after all……It’s the paranoia and righteousness that some who wear it proclaim that gets an answer.” – Jagdeep.

Exactly.

#43 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

With that line and your first ever post digressing to a sikh wanting to pray privately in a common prayer room, you come across as an Angry Green Muslim.

She also comes across as an Angry Green Muslim with a chip on her shoulder about Sikhs specifically, given that she’s now used off-topic Sikh-related examples twice on PP in a relatively short time, particularly in view of her sarcastic tone which has underlined such comments.

#44 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

GM although I understand your frustration, However, I do think that hijab is not only something specifically for women..if you will note that men have particular dress and behavioural codes too…also hijab is not just about male gaze..it indicates that women who practise hijab are mingers..which is definitely not the case. It also suggests that men should only lower their gaze if a woman wears a scarf..once again this is illogical. As usual however, people will focus on the scarf as it is a more obvious religious symbol than say a Muslim man’s beard. I do also wonder why Sikh men and women are not called oppressed if they choose to wear the turban.

#45 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

I don’t think she has a chip on her shoulder about sikhs jai, just that sikhs also cover their hair but are not labelled oppressed.

#46 Comment By tfi On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

Sofia, that is my point.. It is not just about a piece of cloth it is about a set of ideas, a certain way of behaving and its display is about stating that way of behaving. Your text says “Hijab is not just practised by Muslim women”, I for one would feel more comfortable if you inserted the word ’some’ in there as it implies with that sweeping generalisation that to be considered a Muslim Woman means one must wear the Hijab. Surely one can wear a bikini and still have the behaviour of a Muslim woman?

TFI

#47 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

I don’t think she has a chip on her shoulder about sikhs jai, just that sikhs also cover their hair but are not labelled oppressed

Sikhs who wear turbans don’t proclaim they cover their hair to ward off evil gazes, or as a proclamation of superiority over non turban wearers (although to be fair, some Sikhs who wear turbans consider themselves to be intrinsically better Sikhs than monas, but that’s a different issue)

I wear a patka-bandana sometimes because I like it, but I’m happy to say it doesnt really mean I’m more righteous than someone who doesnt wear it, and I encourage as many women or gay men who are so inclined, to continue gazing at me if they like.

#48 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

When I stand by window playing with myself while focusing a pair of binoculours, I appreciate how that can be seen as ‘a male gaze’ but I would argue, and my religion will back me up on this, it’s her fault for not drawing her curtains

#49 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

“Surely one can wear a bikini and still have the behaviour of a Muslim woman?”

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t advise she bends over to pray to Mecca on the beach…

#50 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

actually there is- that’s why muslim men are entreated to dress modestly and grow their beards,

And if you are seriously worried about being ogled by women, then you are either having a laugh, or you are not of the gender and sexuality I assumed you to be. Quite frankly, such an argument is almost juvenile in its disregard of fundamental aspects of male and female sexuality that we all know instrinsically.

And besides, irrespective of arguing the rationale of hijab, you are under the obligation of the geneva convention to fully respect people’s right to wear whatever religious symbols of whatever religion they decide to follow. So your attempt to debunk its rationale as well as your attempt to debunk it as a religious symbol are both flawed.

I am going to say this for the third time today, but there is something very unnerving about the strong remnants of orientalist discourse amongst today’s liberals (which include former ‘orientals’), and the echoes of the orientalist’s desire to unveil his subject.

#51 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

I agree with TFI and Islamic theolgy on this one. Muslim women are not obliged to wear a burkha/niqab/veil whatever the Arabo-Persian term you want to use. And Muslim women who don’t wear one should not feel like they’re “letting the side down”, even they are often made to by Muslims of both sexes.

#52 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

TFI - if you want me to put “some” in the sentence then I will. It makes not a jot of difference because once again you missed the goddamn point..*sigh* i give up

#53 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

and dr panglos, at what point in space-time did I mix up oriental and occidental? You really need to double check your facts before attempting to patronise someone, otherwise, what happens is you end up making a fool of yourself

#54 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

And if you are seriously worried about being ogled by women, then you are either having a laugh, or you are not of the gender and sexuality I assumed you to be. Quite frankly, such an argument is almost juvenile in its disregard of fundamental aspects of male and female sexuality that we all know instrinsically

Are all women who don’t cover their hair inviting sexual disgrace from predatory men? Does it then make women who don’t cover their hair culpable for their own degradation?

#55 Comment By Sunny On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

I wear a patka-bandana sometimes because I like it, but I’m happy to say it doesnt really mean I’m more righteous than someone who doesnt wear it

Well actually, there are plenty of Sikhs who do think they’re better sikhs just because they wear the turban. This superiority complex isn’t just restricted to outwardly observant Muslims.

I think the example about the Sikh turbans was fine, and a good one to make. Dunno why it has to be labelled as ‘angry’ or a ‘chip on the shoulder’ just because GM raises it.

#56 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

You really need to double check your facts before attempting to patronise someone, otherwise, what happens is you end up making a fool of yourself

You’re quite patronising yourself, referring to people as ‘former orientals’ and unleashing a lash of Said-ian dogma-rhetoric in a meaninglessly generalised fashion when someone says something you disagree with, and implying that women with uncovered hair are in some way responsible for any unwanted secual attention they receive.

#57 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

secual = sexual

#58 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

Well actually, there are plenty of Sikhs who do think they’re better sikhs just because they wear the turban.

Yeah, I said that already.

#59 Comment By ChrisC On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

Sid - “As red and white make pink, so the FT still, in a fashion, could continue to represent the homosexualists.”

Very very funny excerpt!!
Is the rest of the book that good?

#60 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

this might as well be turned into a instant messaging chatroom…

how on earth did you glean your last comment from that quoted comment of mine, jagdeep?

I mentioned sikhs twice in completely unrelated circumstances and non-deragatory ways, and now I have a chip on my shoulder?

I actually relate a lot to sikhs, amongst others who wear obvious religious symbols like I do.

#61 Comment By Sunny On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

And besides, irrespective of arguing the rationale of hijab, you are under the obligation of the geneva convention to fully respect people’s right to wear whatever religious symbols of whatever religion they decide to follow.

GM - I don’t think anyone disagrees on this here. We’re all for people wearing what they want (although it sometimes depends on context) and have the freedom for that.

But I’m not convinced that ‘ogling men’ is a good enough explanation for the hijab. Firstly, both men and women check each other out. That is a genetic disposition. And it happens in countries even where there is enforced segregation of the sexes.

Deny people any contact with the opposite sex until marriage and you end up with all sorts of social problems (bad marriages, patriarchal attitudes) etc.

#62 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

how on earth did you glean your last comment from that quoted comment of mine, jagdeep?

It’s all this male gaze baloney, mixed in with the rhetoric of Orientalism and ‘former orientals’. A little uncritically undigested Edward Said can be fatal to the mind.

#63 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

Angry Green Muslim aka “The Hulk”?

Sofia, I think that you are equally missing my point, but I’m happy that you would acknowledge that the Hijab is not practised by all Muslim women and it is easily possible for a woman to choose to wear a bikini without being accused of being a bad Muslim. Its all about choice and a lack of peer pressure that allows one to be the individual that you choose.

Thanks for the common ground Sid, much appreciated.

TFI

#64 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:18 pm

Is the rest of the book that good?

That’s from a blog called the Islamist, not the book by Ed Hussain. The books is considerable more dry and heart rending it doesn’t attempt to be funny.

TFI

#65 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

I’m backing down — greenmuslim, it’s probable that if we knew each other and had this discussion we’d be in accord personally, but in the anonymity of the internet it’s probably not possible to do nuance.

So I’ll just say, I’m really wary of the ‘male gaze’ thing, it really is such a dangerous and wrong way to conceive of things, I don’t like it when arguments are reduced reflexively into a narrative of ‘orientalism’ because I think it’s used as a tool to close off thought and discussion. I’ve come across that argument before so many times and it’s like an absence of thought, like a tool to stigmatise opposing thinking. That’s all I meant.

Sorry if I came across as curt or rude. Please accept my apologies if I did.

#66 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:40 pm

I didn’t actually make a commment on your bikini opinion..(omg I can’t believe I’m having this conversation)..frankly what a muslim wears is his/her business, and if they want to call themselves a muslim that is also his/her business, not mine. If they want to assess their own “religiousity” using normative Islamic texts then that again is their business. I would rather focus on myself and what I feel Islam teaches me.

#67 Comment By green muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

jagdeep, no offense taken, maybe I came across like I was writing an essay, but I assure you that my schooling has taught me to take nothing undigested.

I simply pointed out the irony of people who would classically have been labeled orientals, adopting an ‘orientalist discourse’ when it came to veiled women. And I’ll explain what I mean by this.

Hijab, more than being a personal thing or a religious symbol, is a statement of modesty- a modesty that applies to men and women in differing in degrees. (For instance a man can easily go around topless in the summer heat and not create a stir- this can’t quite be replicated on the other side of the gender divide).

This by no means suggests that I think the hijab is the only true means of modesty. But to downplay the importance of hijab as a means of modesty, especially as a heterosexual man, just smacks of a very patriarchal and sordid desire to unveil and yes, to ‘gaze’ . (I didn’t make up the term ‘male gaze’ by the way, you’ll find it in feminist writings). And so given the different nature of their bodies and libidos, there is no equivalent of a ‘female gaze’, if there was, it would be seen as fairly cute and innocuous (like in the diet coke advert for instance- can you imagine that advert had been the other way around, with all those men staring at a sweaty woman drinking diet coke? That would definitely not have made the 9 o clock watershed).

#68 Comment By Random Guy On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

Going over this discussion, one thing confuses me. What is the reason that Sikh men are supposed to wear the pug/turban?

#69 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

As a homosexualist Muslim man, hijabs don’t stop my respectful gaze of a ’sister’ if they’re worn skin tight, showing shapely bosoms and a nice bum. Subhahan’llah!

#70 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

The Female Gaze: Women As Viewers of Popular Culture isbn 0941104419. I’m not saying this is feminist writing, just that the term does exist in writings on women born out of the whole discussion on the male gaze.

#71 Comment By A councillor writes On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

Let’s try and get back to removing segregation, shall we.

Post-reunification, there was an interesting phrase used in Berlin about former inhabitants of the East Zone who could not get used to reunification. “Die Mauer im Kopf” - the wall in the head. That’s quite a useful idea, because the concept of it seems to often apply to housing and educational self-segregation within the city in which I live.

When I get Muslim constituents looking for a council property, most of the time they will name the areas where there is a strong Muslim community even if those areas are short of council properties or the sort of council property they require. I have even had homeless cases refuse properties outside those areas and that’s fairly fatal for their housing prospects.

When I get White constituents looking for a council property, they will usually place peripheral mainly-white council estates high on their list. If their housing needs mean they they might be offered an inner-city tower block or maisonette, then again, they will turn it down, again, fairly fatal to their housing prospects.

Other Asian families don’t tend to use social housing much in this city, so I can’t comment on their attitudes, although there are areas of concentration of other ethnic groups in this city.

The same applies to the educational field, Muslims very often want to send their kids to a predominantly Muslim and preferably single-sex school often listing schools which are some distance away or low in achievement to get this, rather than the excellent or nearer non-Muslim school.

The White families usually want to send their kids to the two local schools, but if they are given the predominately Asian school which is the next nearest, they will instantly start appealing. Again many of them would prefer to send their child to a school several miles away or low in achievement rather than go to a “better” or “nearer” Asian dominated school.

Interestingly enough, Sikh and Hindu families seem to just want a good school above everything else, which is the way it should be (in my opinion).

Also, this rule tends to break down in more middle-class or aspirational communities, where people do seem happier to live together and go to the same schools. But there are also other problems caused by housing segregation by wealth.

Obviously, the schools problem could be solved by forms of social-engineering. Strict applications of catchment areas, bussing etc. As a liberal, I’m not too happy about those, *but* I’d be willing to have a look at them in order to increase community cohesion. I suspect you’d have some increase in school dropout rates to deal with. Oh and more faith schools isn’t going to help this segregation in the slightest.

The housing problem is far, far more difficult. The social housing market is much, much smaller than it used to be and would (at least in my city) have very little effect on self-segregation patterns if some form of forcible social engineering was applied and I really don’t think you can do anything about the private market.

I think it comes down to how do we break down “Die Mauer in Kopf” and end up with people who are happy to live, work and be educated together, be part of the same local community, but retain (where they wish to) their own distinctive identities. I don’t know how we get to this utopia (or whether it may be actually be a utopia in the literal sense), but I suspect that the best steps involve a lot of education on all sides. I also suspect that it will eventually happen quite naturally, but it may take a very long time with a very rocky road in places if it steps aren’t taken to help it. I think that making sure that people are well-educated in diverse schools may be a starting point.

Finally, most of my Asian constituents are second or third generation British are if anything more native to the city in which they live and I have the honour of representing than I am. So lets not have silliness about “immigrants getting houses”.

#72 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

I don’t think she has a chip on her shoulder about sikhs jai, just that sikhs also cover their hair but are not labelled oppressed.

Sikhs do not cover their hair to ward off sexual attention, but as a gesture of respect and deference towards God, because in Sikhism the entire universe is regarded as divine in its essence. It’s the same logic behind why people have to cover their heads inside gurdwaras, only extrapolated to “everywhere”.

In the case of turbans, it’s also because a) it’s historically been a royal/aristocratic symbol, which is to do with certain aspects of Sikh philosophy, b) it keeps one’s hair in place, and c) to some extent it’s also to protect one’s head against violent attacks, so there’s a military element to it too.

And if you are seriously worried about being ogled by women, then you are either having a laugh, or you are not of the gender and sexuality I assumed you to be.

Exactly the same reverse argument applies to women too, because it infantilises them and presumes them to be so timid and hypersensitive that they can’t take being checked out by men, and find the whole thing grossly offensive.

Firstly, both men and women check each other out. That is a genetic disposition. And it happens in countries even where there is enforced segregation of the sexes.

I would say it especially happens in countries/cultures where there is segregation of the sexes. I’m sure we can all vouch for that from our trips to India, which obviously isn’t a “purdahed” country (any more) but to some extent still has the cultural legacy of historical gender segregation, even if it’s changing rapidly these days. If people don’t have access to certain things, and the latter is fetishized to such an extent that people overreact to any exposure to it, and it’s all regarded as being inherently “bad”, well…..it makes people want what they can’t have (or aren’t supposed to have) even more, with the resulting unhealthy attitude to everything it involves.

So you end up with those dirty sods who grope women on those public buses in India, have no compunctions about blatantly staring too much even if the woman concerned hates it, and have a generally paranoid and adolescent attitude to the whole issue of male-female interaction & sexuality.

I am going to say this for the third time today, but there is something very unnerving about the strong remnants of orientalist discourse amongst today’s liberals (which include former ‘orientals’), and the echoes of the orientalist’s desire to unveil his subject.

Crikey, it’s like reading comments by some of our more politically-correct and hyperpoliticised friends over on Sepia Mutiny ;)

Some of the folks there are always using such jargon (apparently it’s a result of the American educational system); I remember winding people up about it when I used to participate on that blog.

Anyway, I think we’re all going a bit too far off-topic on this thread — and yes, I’ve been guilty of this too. Time to steer it back on-course, guys.

#73 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

OK GM. I’ll ignore one point for now, which I think is an important one, and that is the assumption in your position that all men are potentially predatory sex monsters and that the male gaze is inherently wrong. I’ll deal with the main criticism that I think can be put to you on this point, and that I think deserves a response.

But to downplay the importance of hijab as a means of modesty, especially as a heterosexual man, just smacks of a very patriarchal and sordid desire to unveil and yes, to ‘gaze’

Ultimately GM, if we take this logic to its endpoint, are you not asserting that women who do not cover their hair are responsible for their own relegation to the status of sexual object for the lumpen predatory male to gaze at and sexualise? Is it not implicitly saying, and restating, that most patriarchal of formulas, that a woman is ‘asking for it’, if she is not dressed ‘correctly’? I find this intensely problematic greenmuslim, I really do.

#74 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

sid..what’s a homosexualist?
Also GM I do find the argument about a female gaze being rather innocent as in diet coke adverts slightly hypocritical..if you don’t want men to do it to you (at all), then don’t label what women do to men..innocent..its the same thing whoever is on the receiving end.

#75 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

Jai, i think maybe my definition of hijab and what it encompasses must be different to what a lot of ppl are labelling it as. Therefore I can only agree with your argument if your base definition is that the scarf is to ward off sexual attraction. In my opinion, there is more to it..again..it comes down to hijab…hijab is not the scarf…hijab is more. If a woman is wearing a scarf and expects it to stop men staring at her…she really has to be naive. In Islam, the onus is however not on the woman, but on the man, to preserve his own desire. Therefore we are looking at this the wrong way.

BTW do sikh women wear a turban for the same reasons as sikh men..i must ask at the gurdwara soon.

#76 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

A homosexualist is a man or woman who is homo-sympatico and reject the Koranic injunction that they were created by God to be damned by God.

Why is gazing bad either on the receiving end or the supplying end? Seems very retarded to me.

#77 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

A councillor writes

If there is a differential between Sikh and Hindu families in your contituency and Muslim fmilies in terms of what they want for their children why do you think this is? Why are Muslim parents reluctant to climb over the wall in the head whilst Sikh and Hindu families only care for their children to get into the best school regardless of the pupil demographics? That change has to come from within, and it’s about embracing opportunities in society and not self segregation. If it’s not happening now, how can we be sure it will change in the future? The nightmare scenario is that this is just the beginning of deepl segregated cities and towns. I’m not as optimistic as you are.

#78 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

Clothes are cheap - actions speak louder than clothes.

Homosexulist = Hetrosexual male in tight trousers. That’s my guess.

Justforfun

#79 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

Sofia,

BTW do sikh women wear a turban for the same reasons as sikh men.

Yes. Sikhism does not distinguish between men and women with regards to the 5Ks, although generally wearing a turban is much more common amongst strictly-practising Sikh men than women. You do, however, find some women who do this, including occasionally in the UK but especially back in India (and amongst some of the so-called “white Sikh” converts in the US).

#80 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

Jagdeep…muslim diaspora..muslim psyche…etc etc…it’s pretty shameful but i’m an eternal optimist.

Sid, well depends who’s doing the gazing…that’s shallow i know…:)

#81 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

Jai: Is that a Kirpan in your Kachhee or are you just glad to see me?

#82 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

BTW do sikh women wear a turban for the same reasons as sikh men..i must ask at the gurdwara soon

Some Sikh women belonging to a certain sect do wear turbans. But the number is tiny. Interestingly among those white converts to Sikhism in New Mexico and California, most of the women wear turbans.

#83 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

Sofia we need optimists like you, because of pessimists like me who make things out to be too bleak. I hope it does change, but it’ll be at least a generation, because at the moment I don’t see it happening as much as it should.

#84 Comment By Sunny On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

Is that a Kirpan in your Kachhee or are you just glad to see me?

hahahahaha!!

#85 Comment By A councillor writes On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

Jagdeep - the majority of Sikhs and Hindus who live in my ward live in the comfortable middle class areas, most Muslims who live in my ward either live in a small area of Victorian terraces which are best described as declining or in social housing on one of the estates.

I suppose I remain optimistic because I have to, I meet people all the time and whilst I try not to be a Pollyanna type, I think that the vast majority of my constituents want the same thing, a decent home, a decent school for their kids, a safe neighbourhood with decent neighbours, a good job etc. These values are shared by all of us, be we white, black, desi, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, gay or straight.

Mind you, I tend to agree, at least a generation for real signifcant change to happen, possibly even longer.

#86 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

Sofia, I liked your post at #66 I’m warming to you immensely. It is all about personality liberty and freedom of self expression.

The Incrediable Hulk, no matter how many times you say the world “Orientalist”, Jagdeep has your measure and please don’t flip over to protesting “Straw man! Straw man!” because he follows where your logic is leading.

A councillor writes. Great on topic post.

Considering that many Asian famlies moved to predominately non-Asian area for economic reasons - i.e. start a business etc and that the families that prefer Muslim / Asian areas don’t consider themselves “racist” or “exclusionist” because they see benefits for themselves and their families in living next to simular people.

Therefore could tax breaks be given to people who lived in different neighbour hoods? i.e. I’m white living in a majority black neighbour hood I could pay less council tax? Equally an Asian living in a white neighbourhood would get a tax break. Going further if the tax was computed based on my neighbours, I’d be cross if a white family moved in next door because my council tax would go up.

Just a thought …

TFI

TFI

#87 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:39 pm

Jagdeep…I know a maths teacher that works in an area with a mixed asian population..the muslim kids are lagging way behind the other asians…some of the muslim girls would not be allowed to go on school trips etc..many of the muslim girls who wear scarf at school are being caught snogging boys in the toilets and on one occasion having sex..one girl who wears a scarf was an alcoholic and had to have her parents hauled in…so yes, muslim “leaders” are failing…and it makes me mad…at parents more than anyone..for being so foolish and ignorant. I went to school years ago and yes my parents were strict but never to this extent…and education was paramount..I’m finding the situation similar in the Muslim Somali communities. I find that all these idiot leaders want is to bury their heads and pretend it will all go away…

#88 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

How much of the ‘coalescing’ together is a class issue within an immigrant community and bugger all to do with their religion.

Just a thought ( TFI stop using my Just…. :-) )

Justforfun

Jai - I have never understood this head covering as respect for God - surely an open face and uncovered head would show more respect for God as creator - all the better to be close the air around us without fear or submission and to worship out in a field under the sun or stairs or even clouds.

#89 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

Stairs ?? - Stars !!! but Stairs would be fine I suppose

Justforfun

#90 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

A councillor writes

It’s about mentality. When my family was living in a terrace house they still rammed into our heads that we had to study hard to get into the grammar school so we could do well. Those Sikh and Hindu families were working class once. They just got on with it and embraced the opportunities this society provides. You just have to want to embrace them.

#91 Comment By Sofia On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

jff..it is a class, culture and religious issue. I’m not even sure where one begins and the other ends..

#92 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

Whoops, I’ll try and not to say “just a thought” again, unless of course it is just for fun ;-)

TFI

#93 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

Sofia — my sister is a teacher and they got one of the Asian arts councils people that my sister works with part-time to bring these dancers into the school for the girls to learn modern Indian dance, a fusion of traditional Indian and jazz styles. Very colourful and fun. They got to dress up with bells on their ankles and learn all these nice dance moves for a few weeks. All the Indian, white and black children loved it and were really excited. All of the Muslim girls were removed from the class by their parents who wouldnt let them do dancing. These are nine year old girls we’re talking about. How sad is that? They were miserable about it. That’s self segregation and it’s not healthy.

#94 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

These values are shared by all of us, be we white, black, desi, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, gay or straight.

A Couciullor Writes:

If a councillor writes a sentence like that and expressly excludes Muslim entirely, one wonders about your motivations, your credentials, your sympatico and the state of Local Government. Shame on you.

#95 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:07 pm

Sofia - I’m sure it is - its just often the white population frame the issues in their minds as religious in origin, because the polls quote things like 60% Muslims in area A don’t bother the go to 6th form , while 99% of Hindus in area B go to University, so it is assumed to be a religious thing. When in fact it will be mostly a class thing , and class is something the British understand very well but it is never explained to them as that, but always as a religious issue. I’ve never understood why - maybe some PC attitude or a a Asian solidarity thing - I just don’t know.

Justforfun

#96 Comment By soru On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

sid:

These values are shared by all of us, be we white, black, desi, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, gay or straight.

huh?

#97 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

Ummm Sid, he does mention Muslim, right between ‘Hindu’ and ‘Christian’

#98 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

You left out semitic dwarves, one of the main ethno-religious groups!

#99 Comment By Jagdeep On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

This is a good thread Sid.

#100 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

What about the Agnostics. Typical - they are always left out, and the Buddhists, and the Jains and the Sikhs…..and of course the Justforfunsters

I won’t vote for you

Justforfun

#101 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

I can read ‘deep.

#102 Comment By soru On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

I’ve never understood why - maybe some PC attitude or a a Asian solidarity thing - I just don’t know.

I suspect it is americanisation. The US is officially supposed to be a classless society, so they discuss all class issues in terms of race. The film star who only gets 40 instead of 60 million for his pet project is seen as being fundamentally in the same situation as the child who goes to a school that once, 15 years ago, had someone who managed to make it out adequately educated.

It’s kind of silly, but on the other hand it does lead to solidarity across class boundaries, some of the rich helping out the poor instead of finding complicated reasons to despise them.

#103 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:24 pm

Sid - I like it and get it - playiong with the definitive /indefinitive artle infront of ‘councillor’ to make an ironic post modern comment on the state of religious/race relations in this country.

Still - I won’t let you be a …funster - to clever for your own good.

Justforfun

#104 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

Soru - perhaps you are right - perhaps the white Britsh can’t quite see that sub-continentals are as class riven as they are, that they have all the same spectrum of attitudes to education that white communities have. I mean they still think Indians aren’t racists.

I suppose it is easier and less embarrassing for a PC pollster to ask a bearded man if he is a muslim rather than what class he is. His accent of course will not give his class away so the pollster has only his beard to go on.

Justforfun

#105 Comment By A councillor writes On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:38 pm

justforfun

I think many things have been conflated with statistics being produced by religious affiliation, because each affiliation covers a wide spectrum of people.

For instance, most of the Muslims in my ward are from Mirpur, but there are also Bangladeshi, Gujurati and Yemeni Muslims as well. I’d certainly say that the limited number of families I’ve met from the last two groups are gung-ho for education as well, but I’d also say they came from more aspirational backgrounds.

Anyway, I must go off to my Leisure Centre Management Committee.

#106 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

Ok, I haven’t read all the posts, but they seem to focus on a woman’s right to choose to be modest.

Few seem to make the connection between the requirement of a woman to cover-up and male violence, ie my tantalising limbs might drive you into lustful thoughts and actions and it would be all my fault!

Sure there are plenty of women who may think (they think) otherwise, but haven’t these arguments been well rehearsed in the past - by “bra burning” feminists? It’s not a new argument but a very old one.

There is a clear line of violence against the female stretching from the symbolic (or otherwise) veil to the attempted bombing of the “sluts” at Tiger Tiger on Ladies Night. That’s why the veil is an offence against women, whether those that wear understand this or not.

Coming back to a previous argument about racism, it is to the eternal shame of feminists from Greer to Bunting that they do not speak out against this. But then, it’s different for brown girls, right?

#107 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

Has nobody got any comments on using tax breaks to encourage social dispersion amoungst ethic lines?

That’s the last time I’ll make a serious suggestion on this board ;-)

TFI

#108 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

JustForFun, fine. I have, anyway, been having visions of my own Prophethood based on the teachings of the messiah Ed Hussein and I will be setting up a schism of ‘funster’ called ‘golmalster’. I and my followers will be setting up a community of reverential believers in Essex, where we will worship by performing the seven tawaf (circambulations) around the Gants Hill roundabout before proceding to fling stones at symbols of Satan. Finally break our fast by eating cream cheese beigels at the nearby Ashkenazi deli.

#109 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

Jagdeep - your story about the dancers - was that recently? Was it always thus - I suggest this has come about in the last 10- 15 years, and as Sofia says her parents did not have these mad ideas - but then I ain’t out and about in the cities but rather out in the countryside and I have a beard only because everyone else has one and I wear checked shirts because everyonelse wears them.

Justforfun

#110 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

Sid - I claim no ‘revelation’ - I claim only the ‘brand’.

Justforfun

#111 Comment By justforfun On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:09 pm

Councillor - so if you did not look at them as Muslims, but as people from Mirpur, Bangladesh, Gujurat and the Yemen, you will have people from an area that is a spread out as Europe. The peoples of Europe are nominally Christian but have a wide degree of educational aspirations.

We have had discussions here before about how sometimes under stress some communities here seem to overcompensate to be more ‘faithfull’ to their home cultures than the home cultures themselves. It goes back to what Sonia (@ post 4) says - send them back for a few months to see that they are out of touch with their homelands, and then they will want an education.

Justforfun

#112 Comment By Arif On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

Agree with Jai that pointing out how you feel someone else is different is likely to make them feel increasingly different. I would add that I would ideally try to question my own prejudices instead (perhaps because of my rational enlightenment judeo-christian western conditioning):)

Because of the hijab detour - and whether it is pressurised or not, I got reflecting on some of my friends who stopped wearing the hijab (even though they wanted to continue wearing it) because they felt pressured by the wider society to do so. Is that kind of pressure acceptable to people who consider the hijab to be a symbol of oppression? Or is that pressure a form of oppression? I think this is the question being argued about. Should we construct/enforce a single symbolic standard of freedom and oppression, or can there be many?

#113 Comment By Ismaeel On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

What about tackling “white flight”?

#114 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

“Should we construct/enforce a single symbolic standard of freedom and oppression, or can there be many?”

Good point. I would argue that yes we should, and it should either be based on our Western post-Enlightenment values or if this is to Orientalist for you then at the least be consistent with those of the “home” culture - when in Rome, or indeed France, India or the UK…

#115 Comment By Sid On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:49 pm

I have never seen British or US expats in the Middle East, India or the Far East ever do as the “home” culture does. Ever, ever, ever.

#116 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

Justforfun,

Jai - I have never understood this head covering as respect for God - surely an open face and uncovered head would show more respect for God as creator

It’s just a gesture of respect (and not motivated by fear or submission). Also, bear in mind that it’s just the head which is covered — Sikhism is forcefully against covering one’s face in these situations or indeed in general (especially in the case of women).

It should also make more sense to you when you consider that in Sikhism, the turban is analogous to a crown.

#117 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:53 pm

Aren’t they obliged to cover themselves in Saudi and Iran? And as for India, I think the problem is they try rather too hard…

I think your argument would be stronger vis Spain.

#118 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

I have never seen British or US expats in the Middle East, India or the Far East ever do as the “home” culture does. Ever, ever, ever.

It used to be quite different once-upon-a-time, as I discussed in my “White Mughals Brown Brits” article here on PP last year, and as Dalrymple’s book itself describes. Interesting how attitudes and perspectives changed once imperialism really took off.

But with regards to the modern day, Spain and Hong Kong in particular come to mind (especially the former) in relation to self-segregation and a lack of assimilation/integration by British expats. Ditto for some parts of France.

#119 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

Anyway Sid, I was just saying what should, not is. The Brits are as bad as everyone else, why should they be any different? It’s not people we’re talking about but values.

#120 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

I think it’s the hypocrisy and double-standards which is the issue, Boyo.

It’s not right for people to go on ad nauseam about “the immigrants” (read: mostly Asians, especially Muslims these days) “refusing” to integrate, assimilate etc etc when there are currently large ex-patriate communities of white Brits behaving in exactly the same way in other parts of the world. It’s become quite a significant problem in Spain, I hear, with similar issues about 2nd-generation Spain-born Brits being torn between two cultures, developing social problems due to alienation etc. I’m sure The Economist (or a similar current affairs magazine) had an excellent article on this subject a couple of months ago.

#121 Comment By Arif On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

I disagree Boyo.

Partly because I think enforcement of a single symbolic standard of freedom and oppression removes the main strength of liberal societies (where many subcultures can develop and organise for liberation, in the process liberating the whole of society - eg feminism, gay rights, anti-racism), so in my mind it would be a betrayal of the supposed “home” culture in the UK as well as in India or anywhere else with a liberal self-image.

Partly because I’m not sure where the Enlightenment stop and post-Enlightenment begins - and where post-Enlightenment stops and something else begins Do you want it to stop so that nothing else begins? I don’t believe we have the perfect society. I believe it can better and can get worse.

So the first thing is - who will decide the official post-Enlightenment truth (the feminists, the Tories, the anti-racists, Disney, Ekklesia, Melanie Phillips, Gordon Brown, a Constituent Assembly?) The second is do we really believe their standard will represent perfection forever?

#122 Comment By Boyo On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

Jai, well yes and no. I am appalled by the Brits in Spain as I am depressed by their equivalents in Bradford. Neither is right. Before 9/11 one could be content to sneer at them both. Now however the lack of integration in the UK has made it an explosive issue. You’re quite right its Muslims, for example, that come in for most criticism, while many people of Hindu origin (and lots of others) also maintain their own dress, food, langauge and communities, yet we are not being subject to terrorism carried out by Hindus, nor are the Spanish by the Brits (apart from binge drinkers). This is why Muslims are the focus of attention, it’s no mystery. And frankly if we didn’t have a problem with terrorism, chances are this wouldn’t be such a hot topic.

Arif, i think that’s a fair but I think we have got to the point where sitting on the fence is no longer an option. Sometimes you have to choose what you believe in, what is right and what is wrong. As someone with broadly socialist/ libertarian views I make my choice and you make yours. But as to your point:

“where many subcultures can develop and organise for liberation, in the process liberating the whole of society - eg feminism, gay rights, anti-racism)”

I think you do not appreciate your perspective is itself underpinned by a clear and strong set of values which, say, the Muslim or Christian fundementalist, or the racist for that matter, would strongly disagree with, so to back-track on my orginal point - you have long since jumped off the fence, and actually you’re probably sitting right beside me. Watch where you put your hand!

#123 Comment By Jai On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

I think your argument would be stronger vis Spain.

Along with Dubai and Bahrain. Possibly Abu Dhabi too.

So basically everywhere except for KSA and Iran, neither of which have huge expat British communities, as far as I know (someone please correct me if I’m wrong).

#124 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

I think that there should be an economist incentive for people to mix based around council tax rebates.

oh … hang on … I think I said that before and there is some sort of “on topic” rule.

Izzy, you are right … in this “white flight” what are they taking flight from ???

TFI

#125 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

economic incentive … damn the person that put the word in Economist in my head by refering to it earlier.

Its a great mag, I loved the coverage of the mega mosque and the indigant coverage on Islamophobia watch, I love that site there isn’t anything that they won’t defend or stand by.

TFI

#126 Comment By Don On 18th September, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

Most of the ex-pats I have known in the mid/far east have been on relatively short term contracts with ‘home’ being very firmly Blighty or the states. They tended to live in insulated bubbles, adopting perhaps a few of the more comfortable local habits involving dress or diet. Maybe patronise the odd cultural event, make a bit of an effort at the language and check Lonely Planet for cultural faux pas. At most.

Having said that, most of the ‘locals’ with whom they had meaningful contact lived very similar lives, themselves largely insulated from the realities of their own countries by virtue of belonging to the economic, technocratic or bureaucratic elites.

The exceptions were the various young VSO types who were often keen to fit in and were very often totally immersed. They may not always have carried it off, but they showed willing.

Brits in Spain or France are another matter. We are notoriously smug about languages, but a retiree seeking a villa in the sun presumably has finances sorted and children independant so there is little incentive to integrate.

Personally, I intend to semi-retire to the far east. The university in Thailand where I used to teach and where I still have friends seems happy to entertain the idea of a part-time lectureship a few years down the line. Might even get my old apartment back on the beach-front campus. Eke out the pension in a culture that for so many years felt so comfortable. Split my time betwen the two places I have loved the most. Sabai, sabai.

Given the choice, though, I’d come back to die in Northumberland.

(In a positive, not gloomy, way.)

#127 Comment By sahil On 18th September, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

“But the fact that nearly 60% of Britons now think there doesn’t have to be a conflict between nationality and religion I think is an improvement on the numbers AND a good thing. Dunno why the FT were putting a negative spin on it.”

Hi Sunny, I think the FT was looking for areas of problems, so this was possibly one. I mean what percentage level of anything is a problem e.g. 95% or 99%. But like you said, there’s not really much of an issue, and the FT pretty much feels the same way.

Don, that sounds great, I hope to emulate your dream someday as well :D

#128 Comment By soru On 18th September, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

a single symbolic standard of freedom

You can certainly have multiple symbols, multiple sets of symbols.

Where you are going to have problems is when there isn’t around 85% concensus about which symbols represent freedom and niceness, and which represent the oppposite.

You don’t want a situation like Northern Ireland where one group of reasonable people think ‘I am just banging the drum for Protestant Freedom, what type of bigot would object to that?’. And vice versa.

You want the nice reasonable freedom-loving people ending up in the middle, with the extremists on the irrelevant margins. As soon as the moderates pick up banners that seperate them from other moderates, and group them with extremists who like the same banners, the future is set. It is going to be a big and escalating fight in the middle, with the sensible people being increasingly irrelevant off in the fringe.

By basic geometry, for any given society, there is only one middle. So there can only be one majority concensus, so there can only be one set of symbols that represent that.

Now, you can add new symbols to the set. Just don’t expect much success if what you personally see as a nice peaceful symbol is simultaneously being used by some larger group as a flag of war against the peaceful majority.

#129 Comment By green Muslim On 18th September, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

sofia, i find it amazing that you paint the laviscous female stare to be on par with the ‘male gaze’(which I keep putting in iverted commas because it is an established feminist concept)..

And jagdeep, I find it amazing that you deduced what you did from what I have said, as I have not spoken at all about men and their supposed lack of responsibility, not once. I never even mentioned responsibility with regards to women. In fact, I never mentioned the word responsibility at all. I am talking about a woman’s CHOICE to intepret modesty as dressing in a certain way, and how no one, especially not a man, has the right to critise that interpretation.

Where do men get off telling women how they should dress? Aren’t you falling into the exact same practise that you accuse Muslim men of?

Furthermore, let me just emphasise that this is nothing to do with violence or rape either. I am simply advocating a woman’s right to cover herself for whatever reason she deems fit- just because I’m advocating one right doesn’t mean I’m downplaying another i.e a woman’s right to wear as little as she wants. Never once have I criticised women for how much or how little they wear. Remember, I’m not the one questioning people’s choice of dress here, you are. It’s very intellectually dishonest to make an assumption and pass it for a deduction.

If you don’t indeed have a problem with women wanting to cover, then forget everything I just said, and why on earth are we wasting our time having this discussion?

And TFI, I still have no idea what you’re talking about (it seems it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, afterall). And my screen name is named after the title of my blog, and it is there for you to refer to me by. See how I’m calling you TFI? Now you try calling me by my screen name. I’m not incredible and I couldn’t be further from a hulk.

#130 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 19th September, 2007 @ 12:51 am

Nothing I’ve said is that complex Green Muslim, perphaps incredulous would be be a better jibe :-)

Would you agree with myself and Sofia, in that a lady can wear a bikini and still be a good Muslim? or would she be a lesser Muslim than one covered and wearing a hijab?

TFI

#131 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 19th September, 2007 @ 12:52 am

BTW GM, what are you so jealous of ;-)

TFI

#132 Comment By Sofia On 19th September, 2007 @ 11:40 am

TFI - I did not state that a Muslim woman can wear a bikini and still be a good Muslim. What I said was, that it is none of my business. If she wants to practise Islam then it is up to her to read what the doctrine is regarding dress and then choose what she wants to do. I also think the argument of being a “good” or “bad” Muslim is hypocritical if discussed by Muslims. If a person chooses to define themselves as Muslim but goes against normative teachings then they must be doing so for a reason. E.g They can’t be bothered with parts of the doctrine they don’t agree with, are finding it hard to agree with parts of the doctrine, feel they may be persecuted if they partake in some religious customs, apathy in practising..i could go on and on…therefore it is not my responsibility to “gauge” someone elses religiousity.. and frankly would be hypocritical of me, as I’m not perfect.

GM- I did not equate the female or male gaze, I just said that both exist..maybe to differing degrees. What I find fascinating is that many women think it’s a laugh to hold men up for sexual stereotyping and gratification, but when it is done to women suddenly play the religion or equality card. There are arguments to the consequences of sexualisation of young girls in contemporary society (this of course does not exclude the fact that this has happened in history), but I feel that if we are having a discussion on female sexualisation and modesty, then we should be having the same conversation when it comes to men.

#133 Comment By sonia On 19th September, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

132 - good points Sofia.

#134 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 19th September, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

Sofia, I’m confused. Is what you are saying is that there is no such thing as a good / bad Muslim? That a person can eat pork, ignore prayers, wear a bikini and occasionally pop into a church to nod his \ her head to Allah? How much scripture should a person undertake and still be considered to be a practicing Muslim? Surely a person needs to follow an amount of the Islamic doctrine otherwise being “Muslim” would have no meaning at all?

For instance if I call myself a vegetarian and regularly eat meat, I can describe myself as a vegetarian if I wish to?

Or are you saying that you simply have no business in other peoples view of themselves at all? If so what do you have an opinion about those people that DO judge others, for example say “if you eat meat then you aren’t a vegetarian?” or “if you don’t wear the Hijab you aren’t a practicing Muslim” and “a Muslim that practices Islam is a Good Muslim”

TFI

#135 Comment By Sofia On 19th September, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

TFI - this is my whole point…there are certain things that “make” us muslims..the basic and i’m talking real basic is belief in one god and that Muhammed is his last prophet..so basically without this, you can’t be a Muslim. (There are some sects that do not believe this, but in this case, my opinion is that they are not following the teachings that I believe to be true,please note emphasis on what I believe)…you then get your foundations to abide by the belief in one god…i.e the five pillars…therefore these are the basics…it would be interesting to see whether or not dress is something that is actually covered by actual “punishment” within Islam, because as far as I know it isn’t. I hope this is slightly clearer on my position.

#136 Comment By Sofia On 19th September, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

i would like to discuss this more indepth as there is a lot more to say, but I really don’t know if this is the forum..and also i’m getting ready for a meeting..aaghh…

#137 Comment By Sofia On 19th September, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

also my other point was that there are aspects that people are able to judge on, but faith is one of those grey areas which I would find it uncomfortable to place my own judgements which would no doubt be imperfect.

#138 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 19th September, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

Sofia, that does help clarify your position. As an atheist I believe that you can be a better, or worse person. For instance a killer is worse person for it, or someone that is altruistic and helps others is a better person.

Therefore I believe that it is possible to a Muslim and a good person, or a Muslim and a bad person. But whether or not you pray or wear certain clothing is completely immaterial to whether or not you are good \ bad person.

In my opinion a major problem with “groups”, whether they are religious or otherwise, that they measure the worth of the person by that group as a function of subscribing values within to that group, for instance you are a better Millwall supporter if you go to all of the matches. Thus, through my eyes at least, if you truly don’t judge a persons worth via abstract and meaningless behavior patterns you are a better person for it - enlightened even.

A caveat to this principle is reserving judgment for those that do judge others, i.e. in my eyes a person that says “if you don’t wear the hijab you aren’t a good Muslim” - they are worse person for it - would you agree?

I’m fully aware that this line of thinking is somewhat hypocritical. The hypocrisy is nicely encapsulated into a circular self referential joke I like: “there are two types of people in this world, those that are ignorant and stupid enough that they split the world into two types of people, and those that don’t”

TFI

#139 Comment By Derius On 23rd September, 2007 @ 11:49 am

TFI says

“For instance if I call myself a vegetarian and regularly eat meat, I can describe myself as a vegetarian if I wish to?”

I think that would make you a non practising vegetarian. :)

#140 Trackback By jpmlpxgv On 25th September, 2007 @ 10:09 am

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#141 Comment By Sofia On 25th September, 2007 @ 11:00 am

There’s a difference between judging and commenting…however I do realise that there are some times when it is perfectly reasonable to judge. I don’t think that it is right for a woman who practises hijab to then condone someone else for not, and to, on top of that claim that person is a “bad” Muslim. If she wants to comment on that person’s adherence to a specific requisite then that is different.
I’m glad to say that I don’t know many women who practise hijab who pass judgement, even though I am sure these types of people do exist.


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1380

URLs in this post:
[1] with spot-on commentary: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/83c21a1a-646b-11dc-90ea-0000779fd2ac.html
[2] on Muslims in Europe: http://www.ft.com/indepth/muslims
[3] Islamicist: http://theislamicist.wordpress.com/2007/09/01/a-sticky-situation/